07th Jan2019

‘Alpha’ DVD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Morgan Freeman, Natassia Malthe, Leonor Varela, Mercedes de la Zerda, Jens Hultén, Priya Rajaratnam, Spencer Bogaert, Marcin Kowalczyk | Written by Albert Hughes, Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt | Directed by Albert Hughes


An epic adventure set in the last Ice Age, Alpha tells a fascinating, visually stunning story that shines a light on the origins of man’s best friend. While on his first hunt with his tribe’s most elite group, a young man is injured and must learn to survive alone in the wilderness. Reluctantly taming a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, the pair learn to rely on each other and become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before winter arrives.

It’s somewhat difficult to articulate a considerably insightful review of Alpha, not because its a poor film as such, but in the vein of it not really having anything typically engaging or occupying of thought. Stories that entail the dawn of primal man have had tricky and often difficult life in the world of cinema and while the occasional “sword and sandal” epic have done respectable business post-Peter Jackson’s era of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it hasn’t all been positively successful for the big budget imitators that followed. The closest comparable to Alpha in the last two decades would be Roland Emmerich’s 2008 disastrous flop, both financially and critically, in that of 10,000 BC. A decade later and Sony have attempted to revisit the genre with what’s a restraint, straight-laced feature.

Alpha utilises a non-English language cast with subtitled English present on screen, and while the general audience may perhaps find it slightly distracting, this aspect of the film is by far the most engaging and pivotal to the film’s success. It creates a layer of originality and escapism that undoubtedly transports the audience to this prehistoric age. The soundtrack, by composers Michael Stearns and Joseph S. DeBeasi, is vibrant, chaotic and rich – engulfing the story into an atmospheric spectacle. It’s particularly impactful and empowering when teamed with the images present on the screen: especially the outstanding landscape shots captured by cinematographer Martin Gschlacht, shots which look nothing short of breathtaking.

Alpha‘s main drawback is the story presented by writers Albert Hughes and Dan Wiedenhaupt. It is expansive with significant mysticism and mythology that adds a great deal of intrigue but the plot beats are far too cliche and conventional to be emotionally compelling and therefore drained of investment. The simplified A-to-B beats leave a little to be desired in terms of scope and tension made a little problematic and strained with the poor utilisation of its rating.

Alpha is out on DVD from today, January 7th, courtesy of Sony Pictures.


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